Life and Death from Yemen to Euphrates: Syrian Governor Cemal Pasha

Lecture | November 6 | 6:30-8 p.m. | 3335 Dwinelle Hall

 Umit Kurt, Polonsky Fellow, Van Leer Institute

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES), Armenian Studies Program

Known for his rigid policies towards Arab nationalists and Zionists during his posting in Greater Syria, Cemal Pasha and his role in the Armenian genocide has always remained an issue of contention. There are important accounts of Cemal’s activity, particularly during WWI, which have found him to have had no active role in the deportation and extermination of Armenians – here differing from the other two pillars of the CUP, Enver and Talat. On the contrary, such accounts argue that he extended a helping hand to Armenians in so far as his authority and power would allow, and that he even faced off against members of the central government in Istanbul and the CUP head office to do so. This talk will question that argument, examining the politics of Cemal Pasha during the war, while concentrating on his approach to the Armenian ‘Question’. I will also explore his own responsibility for the Armenian genocide and discuss the context and contingencies of the way in which his role as a genocide perpetrator manifested itself.